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Türkiye, Romania, and Bulgaria Sign Memorandum Against the Mine Threat in the Black Sea

At the ceremony held in Istanbul, the National Defence Minister Yaşar GÜLER, Romania`s Defence Minister Angel TILVAR, and Bulgaria`s Deputy Defence Minister Atanas ZAPRYANOV signed the "Black Sea Mine Countermeasures Task Group Agreement (MCM Black Sea)."

Date: January 11, 2024 Update: March 03, 2024

Amidst the mine threat in the Black Sea from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a ceremony for the "Black Sea Mine Countermeasures Task Group Agreement," led by Turkiye, Romania, and Bulgaria, was held in Istanbul today. Speaking about the protocol between the NATO allies and the activities of the Black Sea Mine Countermeasures Task Group, Turkish Minister of National Defence Yaşar GÜLER said, "We jointly decided to sign a protocol between three countries to fight more effectively against the mine threat in the Black Sea by improving our existing close cooperation and coordination. Today, we are here for this purpose. I especially want to express my great pleasure in hosting the signing ceremony of this agreement, which will contribute to regional security and stability in the Black Sea, and welcoming Romania's Defence Minister, Mr. Angel TILVAR, and Bulgaria's Deputy Defence Minister, Mr. Atanas ZAPRYANOV to our country.

As you are aware, the countries along the Black Sea coast were affected in various ways by the war that began in Ukraine in February 2022. I want to emphasize that in this sensitive period, where risks and threats have increased and conflicts have evolved into war, Turkiye is making multifaceted efforts to establish regional and global security, peace, and stability. In this context, following the crisis in the Black Sea, our President initiated intense diplomatic efforts to end the conflicts, provide humanitarian aid, establish a grain corridor, and achieve lasting peace. Adhering to the principle of regional ownership, we carefully and impartially implemented and continue to implement the Montreux Convention, which is crucial for maintaining balance in the Black Sea and the region's security.

We thank all the states that have adhered to the rules of the Montreux Convention so far and expect the same sensitivity from all states in the future. In this process, protecting against security risks that could arise from the war became vital for coastal allies. As soon as the war started, we began developing measures to eliminate the threat posed by drifting sea mines in the Black Sea, and especially our Navy took on significant responsibilities in this regard. To make our efforts more efficient and beneficial, we thought it would be appropriate to collaborate with our allies in the Black Sea. Indeed, following the proposal we presented to our NATO allies, Romania and Bulgaria, we adopted a strategic vision. In this context, we agreed to establish a Mine Countermeasures Task Group against the mine threat in the Black Sea. Our teams started negotiations in September of last year.

Our teams worked intensively to implement this critical initiative and achieved significant progress in a short period. Thus, with joint efforts with our Bulgarian and Romanian allies, we have come to this point to overcome the mine threat. At this point, I would like to express my gratitude to Romanian and Bulgarian authorities for quickly responding to our proposal and providing immediate support with their expert personnel. I believe that this initiative is crucial within the scope of the "Allied Regional Efforts" mentioned in the NATO Vilnius Summit declaration.

In conclusion, the Memorandum of Understanding we signed today will significantly contribute to the safety of navigation in the Black Sea. I sincerely believe that this initiative will enhance the close cooperation between our countries, allow for experience transfer, and further improve our relations, especially in the Black Sea."

Each Country will send a Minehunter to the Black Sea Mine Countermeasures Task Group

The MCM Black Sea (Black Sea Mine Countermeasure Task Group) was formed by coastal countries with the participation of the Turkish, Romanian, and Bulgarian navies under the leadership of Turkiye to ensure maritime security during the Russia-Ukraine war and eliminate the sea mines drifting to the south of the Black Sea. According to the agreement signed by the Defence Ministers of the three countries, a committee consisting of the Naval Commanders of the three countries within the organizational structure will meet twice a year. This committee will make unanimous decisions regarding the activities of the task group and also decide on identifying and accepting coastal countries to join the group when appropriate conditions arise after the end of the war. A total of four ships, including one minehunter from each country and one command control ship, will operate in the Black Sea.

Ministry of National Defence Sources: "Minehunters sold by the UK to Ukraine cannot enter the Black Sea until the end of the war."

Answering to questions about new members joining the Triple Initiative between Turkiye, Romania, and Bulgaria and concerns about the Montreux Convention, the Ministry of National Defence sources stated that: "The expectations of our non-coastal allies to this organization are valuable, but this initiative will only be open to the ships of the three coastal ally countries. Contributions from other coastal countries to the Black Sea in specific areas, as agreed, can occur over time and when conditions are appropriate, again with the unanimous agreement of the three countries." Emphasizing the meticulous implementation of the rules of the Montreux Convention, Ministry of National Defence sources stated, "The guarantee of stability in the Black Sea is the Montreux Convention. Minehunters sold by the UK to Ukraine cannot enter the Black Sea until the end of the war. This situation has been previously reported to the UK, and they do not have any further requests on this issue at the moment."